Total Pageviews

Saturday, 12 January 2008

End of the British Protectorate of the Ionian

From: Simon Baddeley Sent: 10 January 2008 To: Subject: A petition from Ano Korakiana, Corfu re the ending of the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands and the Treaty of London 1864.
Dear Humanities, British Library. It has been suggested at your phone enquiry desk that I should try e-mailing to you. As a local historian I have been sent this e-mail request from the village of Ano Korakiana, Corfu, Greece.
Dear Simon. It is said that before the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece (1864), inhabitants of Ano Korakiana signed a "paper" that they asked for the British Government to remain the islands under the Britain. We have been looking for this paper for years at the Greek archives without result. We wonder if you can help us by searching this paper in British archives (Parliament, Colonies archives, Foreign Office etc). We are sure that one of the names that signed the paper is Panos, Panayiotis or Panagiotis Metallinos (Μετταλινος). He was the 'leader'. A similar paper has been signed by inhabitants of Kinopiastes (another village in Corfu) and one village in Zakynthos island. It is passed by word of mouth, and today's information from my family's environment: a well known person that searched for another theme, found it in Leeds University (history section?) at the end of 1970s, a file about the Ionian aspect that contained this 'paper'. She read it, but they didn't let her have a copy. A further source is a 'historical and more novel' book, written by a Corfiot author named Spiros Katsaros. It is supported in this book - Helio's Story - that the petition was given to High Commissioner named Sir Henry Storks (1859-1864) and he attached it behind a report to the British Parliament. According to Katsaros, this theme was published to the national media (newspapers) of that period. Thank you in advance. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Best wishes. Thanassis Spiggos and Kostas Apergis
Making further enquiries I received the following e-mail from Prof. Holger Afflerbach, Lecturer in Twentieth Century European History at Leeds University:
Simon. It seems to be true: there were some Greek inhabitants on the islands who wanted to remain under British domination (like Gibraltar today: not very astonishing, indeed). I asked a friend of mine, who is a retired professor of International history, if he recalls this thesis in Leeds. He didn't, but he recalls that there was a thesis in Birkbeck College in the early 1960s on this topic. His advise was to look in the list of the Institute of Historical Research. I think it would also be possible to contact the British Library. They should have a copy of the thesis. It would also be possible to contact Birkbeck College. Unfortunately this friend of mine did not remember the author of the thesis or the exact title. I hope that these few informations help you further. Good luck and best wishes. Holger Afflerbach.
Since then I have not yet traced the Birkbeck thesis though I am trying to contact Dr Eleni Calligas who is now, I believe, at the British School in Athens. Dr Calligas is an expert on divisions within local Ionian politics in the later 19th century. Her 1994 LSE or University of London thesis - Rizopastai: Radical Unionists and Political Nationalists - covers the same critical period of Ionian politics when the Ano Korakiana and other petitions (if that is what they were) may have been delivered. I have also ordered The British and the Hellenes: Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850-1960 by Robert Holland and Diana Markides, which has a detailed chapter on the end of the Ionian Protectorate and includes Eleni Calligas as a reference. I wonder if you can give me further guidance on where I might find the Birkbeck thesis mentioned or any other source that you might consider relevant. Yours sincerely. Simon Baddeley From: Humanities Reference Service, The British Library, St Pancras, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7676 Date: Friday 11 January 2008
Dear Mr Baddeley. I am emailing in response to your enquiry about the petition from Ano Korakiana, Corfu. I have searched our catalogue and found that we have the thesis by Eleni Calligas in the British Library. I am appending the details, including the British Library shelfmark, to the end of this message. While searching the database 'Index to theses', I found two further theses which may be of interest. Unfortunately we do not hold either in the British Library. The theses are: British occupation of the Ionian Islands 1815-64 Markham, S F, 1929 B. Litt., Oxford 0-6856 The Ionian Islands under British administration 1815-1864 Tumelty J J 1952-1953 A9g Ph.D., Cambridge, Trinity Hall, 3-416 I hope this is of some help, though I have been unable to find anything presented to Birkbeck College. I have also searched Birkbeck's catalogue and the whole University of London Library catalogue. I found no further relevant theses, but did find that Dr. Calligas's thesis is also held at Senate House and at the Institute of Historical research. Yours sincerely, Helen Robbins.
The `Rizospastai' (Radical-Unionists): politics and nationalism in the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands, 1815-1964. Calligas, E., 1994, A9m British Library Shelfmark DX187456 Ph.D., London, London School of Economics, 44-9204
ABSTRACT: When the Ionian Islands were placed under British Protection in 1815, they were granted the right to regulate their internal affairs, but in the resultant 1817 Constitution political power emanated from the High Commissioner and was exercised through an authoritarian system of government. Ionian opposition acquired salient nationalist connotations during the Greek War of Independence although in the 1830s it was mostly confined to demands for liberal constitutional reform expressed by the so-called Ionian liberali. As the British introduced a reform programme that met many of the liberals' demands during the 1840s, a more radical opposition group emerged in Cephalonia, the largest and poorest of the seven islands. These political activists, who became known as the `Rizospastai' (Radical-Unionists), challenged the legitimacy of British Protection and favoured major internal socio-political changes on the basis of the right of national self-determination and the principle of popular sovereignty. Although they were involved in various popular demonstrations of discontent, they remained parliamentarians rather than revolutionaries and promoted their ideology through the press, political clubs and parliament, which they first entered in 1850. The growing popularity of the Rizospastai led the moderate liberal majority to co-operate with the High Commissioner in an effort to eradicate radicalism and exclude its representatives from the islands' polity. Most energetically pursued in Cephalonia, this governmental policy temporarily silenced the old radical leadership. However, a new leadership emerged from Zakynthos and, in the altered circumstances of the late 1850s, it redefined radicalism on purely unionist lines and carried most of the popular base with it. The `old' radicals, still considered heroes by a rather bewildered popular following, were isolated during the last years of the Protectorate and adamantly opposed the terms on which the Ionian Islands were finally ceded to Greece in 1864.
Von: Simon Baddeley [] Gesendet: Sa 12.01.2008 12:37 An: Holger Afflerbach, Betreff: Re: AW: Continued search for petition from Ano Korakiana, Corfu
Dear Simon, my friend, DE, does not think that the paper he recalls is one of the three you mentioned. But both of us had the impression that the material you found so far should give you a quite nice overview on the question. D will be busy with other things in the next week, but he wants to come back to this in two weeks. If he finds something, I will give you notice. Best wishes, Holger
Comment from a Greek correspondent on my enquiry:
I'm not surprised they wanted the Brits to stay - the joke doing the rounds in Greece a few years back when the Brits were putting up strong resistance about the EU managing the national economy was that the Brits blanch when they're told that they'll have to cede sovereignty while for the Greeks it's a no-brainer when they're told that the Europeans will provide free funding for projects and an economist from Frankfurt to run the country's economy...
Seriously tho', it always happens that once you start looking at anything closely - in this instance, an historical event - it gets more complicated and morally confusing. More human. On the one hand there is the magnificent story of Byron giving his life for Greek freedom - 'The dead have been awakened - shall I sleep? The World's at war with tyrants - shall I crouch?' (19 June 1823) - on the other, an extract from his journal, as he and his companions waited in Cephalonia, ten months before his death at Missolonghi in April 1824:
As I did not come here to join a faction but a nation, and to deal with honest men and not with speculators or peculators, (charges bandied about daily by the Greeks of each other) it will require much circumspection to avoid the character of a partizan, and I perceive it to be the more difficult as I have already received invitations from more than one of the contending parties, always under the pretext that they are the 'real Simon Pure'. After all, one should not despair, though all the foreigners that I have hitherto met with from amongst the Greeks are going or gone back disgusted. Whoever goes into Greece at present should do it as Mrs Fry went into Newgate - not in the expectation of meeting with any especial indication of existing probity, but in the hope that time and better treatment will reclaim the present burglarious and larcenous tendencies which have followed this General Gaol delivery. When the limbs of the Greeks are a little less stiff from the shackles of four centuries, they will not march so much 'as if they had gyves on their legs'. At present the Chains are broken indeed; but the links are still clanking, and the Saturnalia is still too recent to have converted the Slave into a sober Citizen. The worst of them is that (to use a coarse but the only expression that will not fall short of the truth) they are such damned liars; there never was such an incapacity for veracity shown since Eve lived in Paradise. One of them found fault the other day with the English language, because it had so few shades of a Negative, whereas a Greek can so modify a 'No' to a 'Yes', and vice versa, by the slippery qualities of his language, that prevarication may be carried to any extent and still leave a loop-hole through which perjury may slip without being perceived. This was the Gentleman's own talk, and is only to be doubted because in the words of the Syllogism 'Now Epimenides was a Cretan'. But they may be mended by and bye. (28 Sept 1823 from Cephalonia)
I read of Byron often. I've hardly read Byron. Byron was read to me at school. I recall The Eve of Waterloo '... a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium's capital had gathered then, Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright, The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men ...'. That ignorance means the impression on me of his journal entry from Cefalonia is the greater; stronger for its poignancy (to the reader knowing he has 7 months to live) and acuity - evidence of how Byron's allegiance to the great cause of Greek independence was neither myopic nor sentimental. This points to a key element of my understanding of British love for Ελλάς - a feeling for Greece that does not eclipse an acute awareness of how her people, places and culture fall short of an impossible ideal. It is a love that evokes grief for past suffering, respect for her courage and ingenuity, contempt for her corruption, discomfort at her weaknesses, joy as her mountains top the horizon or emerge from haze or her dark sparkling terrain opens up beneath the gaze of a night-arriving plane, content at her good news, sad at the bad, delight in her company, pride, modesty and shame in due measure in contemplation of historic connections, and knowing that 'except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin.' Further reading: Athanasios S E Gekas (2004) Class formation in the Ionian Islands during the period of British rule, 1814-1864, Economic History Department, LSE & Phd University of Essex William Miller (1966) The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors 1801-1927, New York: Octagon Books Harold Temperley (1937) Documents Illustrating the Cession of the Ionian Islands to Greece, 1848-70, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 9, No. 1, Mar., pp. 48-55 Extract from Temperley, p.49:
There are three periods, corresponding roughly to the three phases of the question: A. Period of abortive proposals, 1848-65 I. Lord John Russell on possible cession to Austria, May 1, 1848 11. Palmerston on possible retention, December 21, 1850 111. Gladstone against annexation to England, February 2, 1855 B. Gladstone's attempt at settlement as high commissioner extraordinary, and its aftermath, 1858-61 IV. His views on prevalent misconceptions, March 22, 1861 C. Period of cession and its aftermath, 1862-YO V. Gladstone on the cabinet decision, December 8, 1862 VI. The queen's assent, December 9, 1862 VII. Clarendon in retrospect, March 15, 1870
Temperley, p.51
. . . an incident occurred which knocked on the head Palmerston's plan of a British annexation of Corfu. The Daily News obtained surreptitiously and published a copy of a dispatch from Sir John Young, High commissioner of the Ionian Islands. Thus the world learned that Young advocated a British annexation of Corfu. Gladstone, then on his way out, had to explain matters at Vienna, while Derby and Walmesbury disavowed the Corfu annexation scheme. It was ostensibly Young's, but had actually been an idea of Palmerston's; and when Derby's government fell and was succeeded by Palmerston's, the latter did not find it possible to reverse his policy. Gladstone, though he defeated British annexationism, could not reconcile the reluctant Ionians to British ideas. Their methods dismayed him: when they obstructed him by speaking, as one orator did, for two days; or when they were openly violent and seditious. No sound British constitutionalism was a good exchange for union with Greece. Ionians were Greeks and detested any government, however good, so long as it was British. They could love any government, however bad, so long as it was Greek. Their ideal was not, and could not be, Magna Carta. It was Hellas. There never was, nor could be, contentment in the Ionian Islands until the last British soldier left them. The Whigs returned to office in 1859, and Russell certainly considered the question of cession to Greece as early as 1860. But in 1861 his colleague Gladstone was still venting his wrath on those persons who, in his view, misrepresented the question. He had not yet accepted cession, and the cabinet was still undecided.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back numbers

Simon Baddeley